The Lord is My Strength
By: Collins Etchi Ako
57As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62
Freddy had to leave the church of his parents and grandparents to become a Methodist. His family had been members of this church for two generations.
Leaving his family church was not an easy process for Freddy. Soon after he told his parents his decision to attend a Methodist church, his pocket money and other allowances were suspended. His father even threatened to disown him. He was told to choose between leaving his new church and leaving the family home. Freddy made the difficult decision to stay with his church and took part time jobs to be able to take care of himself and pay for school expenses.
Eventually, his local Methodist Church finally awarded him a scholarship allowing him to complete his studies without working so many jobs. Before the award of this scholarship, life was hell for Freddy but I still remember him making fun of his new situation and prophesying success in a near future. He would say to his friends and family members that he has seen the light.
Freddy finally earned his Bachelor’s degree in banking and finance and today works for a banking firm. He is married and father of three lovely kids. He recently completed a Masters in Theology and Religious Sciences and, God willing, will be ordained as a minister in the Methodist Church in 2016. When asked where he found the strength to move on during the very difficult moments of his life, after his family had disowned him and refused to assist him financially, Freddy would simply repeat these words; “no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
I first met Freddy at a youth and young adult gathering three months after I became a Methodist myself. His story was similar to mine and I could understand what he was going through, because I had been there myself. Nothing, not even family relationships, should stop us from following Jesus Christ completely. Christ never told his followers that choosing to follow him will be easy but Christ promises us that He will be with us until the end of the world, until the end of our Faith Journey.
For Freddy, it was challenging to move from one Christian denomination to another just as it has been for many other youth and young adults. It can be even more challenging to move from another religion to Christianity and, in some cases, just being a Christian makes you a potential target for extremist groups. Some months ago, Extremists of the Islamic State killed more than a dozen Coptic Christians just for being Christians. In northern Nigeria, churches have been burned and individuals killed just because there were Christians. One thing is certain; nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death. Freddy often says, nothing can separate me from the love of God, not even myself. It just comes down to living like we mean that.
Prayer: O God, thank you for the strength to face persecution and the ability to face any barriers and obstacles as I live my Christian faith. In Christ name I pray. Amen
Discussion questions: What are some obstacles in your faith journey? How do you deal with these obstacles?
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